Martin Beaumont took time out from directing The Hired Man for Hessle Theatre Company to speak to Browse Magazine about the upcoming production which hits the stage at Hull Truck Theatre next week.

The history of the famous musical, originally written in book form by Melvyn Bragg as the first part of a Cumbrian trilogy, is obviously important to the charming director, but doesn’t, as in some cases, put any extra pressure on, or indeed make it a sure fire success.

Relaxing in the foyer of the iconic theatre on Ferensway, he says: “I don’t know that it makes it difficult really, I think it’s good that it’s not been over exposed, so it’s not a show that people have got bored of seeing, that’s something for sure.”

He continues: “It’s a really good piece in terms of its history I suppose, it’s based on Melvyn Bragg’s novel so we know that it’s true, it’s based on the life of the grandfather so it’s a really interesting story to work on.”

The idea of following up with A place in England and Kingdom Come, the other novels in the trilogy, is briefly mentioned but, as the genial man sat in front of me explains: “We’re known for showing existing pieces of theatre rather than writing our own so no that wouldn’t be our intention really.”

With music having been refined from the original the next question inevitably has to be if that’s some thing we can expect in this production, which draws a very definite response: “Under the licence of the show we only have a performing licence to do the show as it is written.”

“What I do as a director is shape the piece in a way to get the most out of it, so I believe the way we interpret the themes, the way we’ve acted some of the scenes make it work to its best advantage really.”

The fact that the production won the award for Best New Musical in 2012 certainly doesn’t seem to bring any added pressure to the cast: “We chose the piece because it is an award winning show… We’re doing it because it’s such a strong piece, so I don’t feel we have a reputation to sort of live up to.”

“What I will say is that, I have lived with the piece for over 30 years, so being able to dig into it has been good and it’s even better than I remember it to be.”

Howard Goodall who wrote the music for the original has been in touch on social media: “He sent us a really nice tweet, saying about how pleased he was that we’re doing the show, how much it means to him and wishing us good luck so that was really touching that he took the time to do that.”

The most challenging part of the show is clear from the answer to the question: “The war sequences are some of the best written pieces in musical theatre there is, so that, I guess, has been something of a challenge to do that justice, the drama of a young man going to the trenches.”

Staging old England is also something of a challenge: “What I try to do as a director is to make a believable world so the set is like it, we’ve got authentic costume from the period as well.”

“The period of the piece is also really important, so we’re trying to make it like what life was like then because it’s really important.”

There was never any desire to try and relocate the story from Cumbria to Hull and the surrounding area: “It is a true story piece about John and Emily struggling in Cumbria and it’s in Cumbria that it existed and it happened to them so it would feel wrong to transplant it somewhere else to be fair.”

The Hired Man promo

Tickets can be purchased at the theatre box office, by ringing 01482 323638 or Online for £14, concessions £12